Best Of Arts & Entertainment
Best Blues Club
Dan Electro's Guitar Bar
It's been a more eventful year than usual for Dan Electro's, probably the lowest-profile place among Houston's major live-music venues. It started off sadly with February's death of Rozz Zamorano, the bass master who was one of the Sunset Heights club's stalwart musicians, and then went through another big change...
Best Downtown Bar
Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge
When you're looking for a great downtown watering hole, you can't go wrong with Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge. Located on Main, it's nestled in a long space with cavernous ceilings and a balcony that offers a fantastic ringside seat to downtown Houston. But this isn't just...
Best Public Art
Leo Tanguma's The Rebirth of Our Nationality
It's not as beautiful as it once was. The paint is faded and worn away. But even in its neglected state, Leo Tanguma's The Rebirth of Our Nationality is an example of public art at its best. It stirs emotions. It's something to be proud of. It gives the public...
Best Place to Bring Out-of-Towners
The Houston Pride Parade
Try as we can to sing Houston's praises, the battle to change the outside world's perception of our city will probably have to be fought one person at a time. There are those out there who still assume we all ride horses to work, repress women and hate gay people...
Best Art Exhibit
The numbers give you an idea of the scope of FotoFest 2014. The citywide exhibit, with its focus on contemporary Arab video, photography and multimedia art, lasted more than six weeks, featured work by about 1,200 artists who came from 37 different U.S. states and 40 countries, and exhibited in...
Best Neighborhood Bar in the Heights
The Boom Boom Room
Sometimes you just want to go where nobody has anything to prove, and that's when it's time to head to The Boom Boom Room. Most nights the Heights bar is quiet and calm, with a scattering of locals enjoying glasses of good wine. Formerly a cantina, the place was transformed...
Best Art Installation
"Soto: The Houston Penetrable"
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston usually has a strict no-touch policy. But for "Soto: The Houston Penetrable," a kinetic installation by the late Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto, touching was not only encouraged, it was required. Made up of 24,000 plastic tubes that had been hand-painted and hung from...
Best Place to People-Watch
When you want to people-watch, you must go to where the people are, and everyone goes to RodeoHouston. You'll see folks from every background, of every age, of every type roaming the grounds. From real cowboys to fake cowboys, from music fans to people who just love deep-fried foods, from...
Best Bingo Night
SPJST Lodge 88
Every Thursday afternoon before 5, a line forms outside the doors of this Heights hall of the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas. And the line grows. And grows. For bingo. If you don't get there before 7 p.m., chances are the place will have reached its 700-person...
Under the Volcano
Finding a jukebox that's not one of those Internet abominations is hard enough these days, but finding one as carefully curated and downright hip as Under the Volcano's is simply impossible. Owner Pete Mitchell, a major music fan, keeps his West U joint's box stocked with classic barroom fare like...
Best Alternative Club
Trends come and go, but every city has at least one music venue that makes its living by taking chances. Walters has filled that niche in Houston since the days it was known as Walter's On Washington, the post-Mary Jane's extension of owner Pam Robinson's "Pamland" domain. The assumption that...
Best Wine Bar
Great wine bars are as much about atmosphere as good wine. Luckily, La Carafe has lots of both. Despite the popular misconception, La Carafe is not actually the oldest bar in Houston (that distinction belongs to Leon's), but it is housed in the oldest commercial building in town — supposedly...
Best Sports Bar
Sports are the ultimate communal experience, and these days every establishment with a TV has the game on. Like many spots, Nick's offers a multitude of televisions and some serious eats. Unlike a lot of places, however, Nick's has character, and not that manufactured type that comes in the form...
Best Bar Games
Joystix Classic Games and Pinballs
Death to Giant Jenga. When you're out drinking with your friends, forget the world of physical games and embrace the joy that is the arcade. By day, Joystix might just be a cool store that sells classic arcade games and pinball machines, but once Pacman Fever Fridays roll around, it's...
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
No museum can be all things to all people, but the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston certainly gives it a good try. The museum's holdings include a heady mix of European masterpieces, contemporary Latin American works, landmark photographs, historic Asian and Islamic art and relics from pre-Columbian and African civilizations...
Best Honky Tonk
Redneck Country Club
Inflaming listeners' political passions is how Michael Berry makes his living, but his own passion is music. More specifically, the highly rated KTRH-AM talk-radio host digs roots stuff, often talking up Texas country, Southern rock and gonzo Americana artists on the air or welcoming them as guests. Since last fall,...
Connor Walsh, principal dancer for the Houston Ballet, was an impressive presence onstage during the company's recent production of Swan Lake. The classic ballet about lost love is, of course, a vehicle for the female lead — here it was Sara Webb who partnered with Walsh — but his performance...
Best Film Festival
Indian Film Festival of Houston
It would be a gross understatement to call the Indian Film Festival of Houston, now in its sixth year, a celebration of Bollywood. Yes, there are the lavish musicals that are popular in India, filled with dashing men and beautiful women, huge dance numbers and infectious music. But that's only...
Best Radio Personality
Since his days at Rock 101, Outlaw Dave's show has been Houston radio's pre-eminent man cave, the only place for listeners to stay abreast of the latest developments in booze, babes, bikes and everything else they need to know to keep from having their dude credentials getting revoked. Six nights...
Garrett Smith's Return, Houston Ballet
A former member of the Houston Ballet now with the Norwegian National Ballet, Garrett Smith came back to the city last year not as a dancer but as a choreographer. His new work, part of the Houston Ballet's Four Premieres program last September, was appropriately titled Return. "Did everybody get...
Best After-Hours Hangout
House of Pies
Some nights, even though the lights have come up and the last call has gone out, you're still not ready to go home. On such occasions, House of Pies on Kirby is the obvious after-hours destination. Whether you want good greasy diner food to soak up the booze, or a...
Best Bar Atmosphere
Walk by Poison Girl fast enough and you might not even notice it's a bar. That's because the giant outdoor sign that says "Cocktails" is actually inside this Westheimer watering hole, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. (Salud!) That sign is just one of the many quirks that...
Several literary powerhouses call Houston home, Robert Boswell (Tumbledown) and Antonya Nelson (Funny Once) among them. The current graphic-novel/Internet king, Mat Johnson (Right State), is also here. The country's leading urban-fiction novelist, ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Rumor Central), and a slew of bestselling romance novelists, such as Kerrelyn Sparks (How to...
Best Radio Station
KACC 89.7 FM
For those of us who grew up long after the '60s and '70s, KACC is the kind of station we always heard rock radio was supposed to sound like: enthusiastic, music-savvy and custom-tailored to its listeners' tastes and interests. In addition to its primary function as the voice of Alvin...
Best Small Museum
The Station Museum of Contemporary Art
We have no doubt that if the Station Museum of Contemporary Art were just a few blocks west of its current location, it would be twice as popular as it is. Thankfully — for fans, at least — its current location east of Main Street in the Third Ward helps...
Best Strip Club
The Colorado Sports Bar & Grill
This Houston mainstay with the classic, old-school-Vegas-style sign is celebrating its 25th birthday this year, and you should help with the festivities. Turns out the sign is actually the only over-the-top, glitzy part of the Colorado — unlike most other Houston gentlemen's clubs, this one strives for the warm, comfortable...
Best Arts Education for Kids
ExploreAsia: Culture Camp for Kids
The Asia Society Texas Center has been a wonderful addition to the Houston arts landscape, with exhibitions, performances and festivals for adults and children. This year the center added another excellent program, ExploreAsia: Culture Camp for Kids. Local artists and cultural experts served as tour guides for explorers aged five...
Best Sculpture Garden
Space Walk Plaza
Nassau Bay's Space Walk Plaza is barely more than a median in one of the access roads to the Clear Lake-area bedroom community. But it's across from Johnson Space Center, and thanks to sculptor Eric Ober, it's one of Houston's most unique points of interest. Five years in the making...
Best Jazz Club
At this point, Cezanne is so synonymous with jazz in Houston that it's difficult even to think of a No. 2, even though the intimate upstairs venue has live music only on Fridays and Saturdays. The room is cozy, the acoustics are great and the bookings are stellar, whether they're...
David Hardaker's name seems to be on everyone's lips lately, and there's no surprise as to why the figurative painter has earned the respect of his peers. He has an excellent eye for line and color and a sense of humor about his work. (His Lost Monsters series, a collection...
Best Place to Relax
Relaxation comes in many forms: a hot bath, a cold beer, even a long run. The greatest peace any of us can have, and thus the most relaxed we can be, comes from peace of mind. While we might not all agree on that beer or that run, everyone can...
This is a bittersweet award this year. Dominic Walsh, a longtime leading dancemaker in Houston and this year's Best Choreographer award winner, is leaving town — at least for a little while. Walsh came to Houston as a teenager in 1987 and spent several years as a dancer with the...
There are Houston designers with larger clienteles and larger staffs than Kate dePara: Her store, Evens, has only five outlets, and her workforce consists of herself and one seamstress/patternmaker. But there aren't any Houston designers with more commitment to craft or customers. The name "Evens" is a nod to dePara's...
Best Tourist Attraction
Space Center Houston
There's a lovely, geeky, cool, nerdy reciprocal relationship between NASA scientists and Hollywood filmmakers that has made for some interesting science-fact-meets-science-fiction moments at the Space Center Houston, our winner for Best Tourist Attraction. Astronauts have often credited sci-fi films with sparking their interest in science and outer space. Filmmakers, on...
Best Place for Cocktails
Lei Low Rum Lounge
Lei Low Rum Lounge doesn't look like the obvious choice when you're after a good cocktail. It's stuck next to a convenience store in a badly paved little strip center in the Heights. But those not deterred by the coconut-and-palm-tree decor are in for a treat. Lei Low is a...
Marian Luntz MFAH Film Curator
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Film Curator Marian Luntz has a gig that's the envy of movie fans everywhere. She travels to film festivals around the world, watches hundreds of movies — classics, blockbusters, new releases, unknown gems — and then determines the museum's schedule of year-round programming. From the...
Best Intimate Concert Venue
McGonigel's Mucky Duck
McGonigel's Mucky Duck is the kind of venue you dream about seeing your favorite band or singer in. Every seat is a good one, everything sounds wonderful and if you need something to eat or drink, you don't have to get out of your seat. It attracts good crowds who...
Best Pool Hall
Slick Willie's Family Pool Hall
We've spent many nights knocking stripes and solids at this longtime Montrose pool hall, partly out of our love for billiards, but also because of the friendly staff and excellent specials. That's the kind of atmosphere Slick Willie's offers — before you know it, two hours have gone by, and...
Best Reason to Stay Out Late
Midnight Movies at Landmark River Oaks
The magic of cinema is really discovered only on the big screen. While Landmark River Oaks is not the only place in town showing older films, the theater's midnight series is one of the best weekly events in the city, a celebration of cult classics that everyone should experience in...
David A. Brown
This is the second time David A. Brown has won the nod for Best Photographer; the first was in 2010. His most recent show, "New Works by David A. Brown: trying to find my way...," at the Jung Center of Houston, featured large-scale photographs of reflected images — that is,...
Best Place to Relive the '80s
If the geeks from The Big Bang Theory ever open their own bar (coming in Season 12!), Neil's Bahr would have already beaten them to it. This nerdgasm of an EaDo lounge, cattycornered to Warehouse Live and Little Woodrow's, offers vintage gaming platforms hooked up to heavy-ass console TVs, at...
Suzanne E. Sellers's trompe l'oeil mural at 1621 Milam
Suzanne E. Sellers's trompe l'oeil at 1621 Milam has a sentimental place in our hearts. The building it covers was home to the Houston Press offices for some 15 years. The trompe l'oeil adorns two of the building's four walls, showing faux storefronts, windows and doors. Sellers completed the mural,...
Best Gay Bar
George Country Sports Bar
Ah, George — don't ever change your ways. Don't ever change your laid-back, neighborhood pub atmosphere, with your friendly bartenders, pool, darts and cozy patio. For eight years, you've been a smile at the end of a hard day. Your prices are just right, even when it's not happy hour...
Best Band to Get Together in the Past Year
New bands show up on the scene just about every week, but not too many make the kind of splash that BLSHS has. In less than 12 months, Chris Gore, Rick Carruth and Michelle Miers have become one of Houston's most popular local acts, winning new fans by the score...
Best Concert Venue
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, which recently welcomed brand-new presenting sponsor Huntsman, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in style this year. It's been one of the nation's top-grossing concert venues for many years, but in June the Pavilion was featured in Billboard magazine, which saluted the 16,000-capacity amphitheater as a...
Best Place to Gamble Legally
Sam Houston Race Park
Even if all you know of horse racing is what you saw in Seabiscuit, you can still have a grand time betting on the ponies at Sam Houston Race Park. Admission is cheap, parking is easy, and the food and drink are affordable. They offer live Thoroughbred racing from January...
Best Reading Series
Poison Pen Reading Series
There are lots of reading series in town, but the Poison Pen Reading Series is the only one that's set in a low-key neighborhood bar. And the only one that offers such an eclectic lineup of literary types. Locals such as Robert Boswell, Katherine Center, Antonya Nelson and former Houston...
Best Movie Theater
Landmark River Oaks
In recent years, Landmark River Oaks has won six Best of Houston® awards: five for Best Movie Theater and one for Best Film Series. The multiple wins can be credited to its physical structure and programming. The theater was built in 1939, and its art deco interior has understandably been...
Best Place to Ride a Train
Hermann Park Train
The sad reality is that Houston is not exactly the best city in the world if you're a train enthusiast. The good news is that in the world of park trains, Hermann Park has one of the best anywhere, and it's something that every single person reading this should experience...
Best Performance Space
We call it "Best Performance Space," but what that really means is that Discovery Green is Houston's best place to be an audience member. Now six years old, the 12-acre park has a calendar overflowing with events, from participatory activities like yoga, soccer and salsa lessons to frequent movie screenings...
Cedar Creek Cafe
"Welcome to the Hill Country" proclaims the sign above as you shuffle along a wood walkway that crosses the expansive restaurant's titular creek. And it really does feel like the Hill Country, and not in a cheesy, prefab way. This is a celebration of being outside while enjoying hot wings...
Best Contemporary Dance Company
Houston's dance community has seen lots of changes lately, with choreographers leaving town or closing studios. There have been plenty of changes at MET Dance, too. Artistic Director Marlana Doyle had her first baby in 2013, which understandably diverted some of her time and attention away from the company, but...
Best Hotel Bar
The bar at Hotel ZaZa's Monarch restaurant has a short but sweet wine list and a unique cocktail menu on which every drink is $12. There's also an extensive scotch selection, and should you want to skip the pomp and circumstance at the Monarch itself, the bar bites will prove...
Best Concert Poster Artist
One of the most gifted visual artists of his generation, Jermaine Rogers marks his 20th anniversary of creating some of the most striking, distinctive rock-and-roll-related graphics around this year. The 42-year-old Houston native loves David Bowie and has a curious fondness for adorable woodland creatures, especially rabbits; the long-eared mammals...
Best Place to Take a Selfie
The "We Heart Houston" Sign
Selfies are like engagement rings — if you like something, you should take a photo of yourself with it. If you love Houston, as you should, the top place for your selfie is in front of David Adickes's "We Houston" sign. The act may be silly, but the sentiment is...
Best Arts Festival
Dance Salad 2014
We can't all travel the world in search of the best in classical and contemporary dance. We can't all spend months catching cutting-edge performances by the best emerging and established dance companies. Thankfully Dance Salad Festival Artistic Director Nancy Henderek can. And does. Under her steady direction, the festival brings...
Best Dive Bar
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good dive bar will have cheap drinks, gruff bartenders and an atmosphere so distinct it simply couldn't be replicated anywhere else. That's Cozy Corner, a bar located in Westbury — and arguably the best thing that neighborhood has ever produced. The Corner...
Best CD by a Local Artist
Footprints On the Moon, Doughbeezy
Doughbeezy only plants his Footprints on the Moon after shooting for it. The third volume of hustle diaries by Houston's self-proclaimed "Southeast Beast" is full of swag and poised to make him an even bigger name in the rap scene than he already is. Doughbeezy raps in a nasal tone...
Best Art Gallery
The Gite Gallery
There's only one art gallery in Houston that sells only contemporary African art — The Gite Gallery. Owner Lloyd Gite was well known to Houston audiences as a popular and respected television news reporter, but when the station where he worked changed management, Gite knew it might be time for...
Best Food Truck Gourmet
The Modular Unit
When co-owner Joshua Martinez closed The Modular trailer to focus on opening downtown's Goro & Gun, it was bittersweet. Now that G&G is thriving, the much-loved mobile eatery is back...and it's better than ever. With a bit of a makeover (bye-bye, tin can trailer; hello, bright, graffiti-adorned truck), the Modular...